On Monday, a federal court in New York dismissed a decree by US President Donald Trump imposing sanctions against lawyers who cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
The decree also ensured that cooperation with the ICC would be punishable. According to the judge, Trump’s decree violates the US Constitution.
Trump issued the decree in June. This allowed economic sanctions and travel restrictions to be imposed on ICC staff and anyone who cooperates with the International Criminal Court, such as an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2014. Four law professors faced penalties such as a consequence of the decree.
According to the Manhattan judge, the presidential order restricts complainants in their freedom of speech, as enshrined in the US Constitution. “National security should not be a talisman used to fend off unwelcome claims,” she ruled.
The lawsuit was brought by four law professors and the Open Society Justice Initiative, a New York human rights organization. James Goldston, the head of that organization, urged future President Joe Biden to revoke Trump’s decree as soon as possible. The order, he says, “runs counter to Washington’s historical support for international justice.”
The International Criminal Court in The Hague was set up to prosecute suspects in connection with crimes committed on member states’ territory if they refuse or are unable to prosecute. The United States has signed the statute but is not a member of the ICC as a contracting state.